Reading and watching the various news reports coming out today about the details of the killing of Osama Bin Ladin, the thing that really kept chewing at me was how President Obama arrived at the decision to go in.
From what I've read, the intelligence was good -- the compound where Bin Ladin was hiding out didn't fit with the neighborhood, a trusted courier who the CIA had been tracking for years had been traced there, suspicious activity (residents burning their own garbage behind 12 to 18 foot high walls of the compound) was noted, and probably other details that the CIA/special ops people don't allow to filter down to the civilian ranks was also available.
But still, what if they were wrong? From what I've read, we went in alone -- having shared this intelligence with none of our usual allies, even Britian, Canada, etc., and certainly not with the Pakistan government. The image one gets reading some of these reports is our helicopters flying in low under radar, hoping they didn't get picked up by the air force of a sovereign country, with which relations are always a bit dicey. Then accomplishing a daring mission, with uncertain payoff. But a high return on investment if they were right.
Certainly a lot to lose for a President who has always weighed every decision to a nicety in the scales of political consideration.
So, what changed for Obama? Is this simply one "good call?" Is this further evidence of following the Bush tradition (e.g., Gitmo, other Bush policies that Obama found hard to oppose once in office) because he found it made sense? Or is it just that after two years, the on-the-job training is finally starting to pay off for Obama?
I'm not sure of the answer, but for today, based on what we've read, we'll give him credit for making a gutsy call. A real gutsy call, by his standards.
Of course, whether this gives him any more than a temporary political boost with $6 gas right around the corner, who can tell? And only the most politically jaded would ascribe Obama's newfound "guts" to political despiration to save his skin by rolling the dice in hopes of a big win. That's just not been Obama's M.O. Up till now.
So for today, we'll simply say, nice call, Mr. President. And we hope to see more of the 'cowboy' in Obama in the next year and a half, for the benefit of us all.
And now, for the oppposing view: If you wonder at a Republican giving props to Obama, check out our friends at Ellen of the Tenth, where peacenik (and former 10th District congressional candidate) Lee Goodman vilifies Obama's handling of the situation. Goodman didn't exactly say Obama=Bush, but he might as well have.
UPDATED 5/4/11 1:45 pm: In a reversal of where we thought things were headed, President Obama has decided not to release the photos of the slain Osama Bin Laden, fearing that they would be used as propaganda tools by terrorists. While some have noted that fear or reprisals didn't stop the NYT from printing the Abu Ghraib photos, even though the release of such photos carried the same risk, we think this is another level-headed decision by the Obama administration.
We promise not to let this viewpoint become a habit, however.